The death of a US soldier in a roadside blast in Baghdad yesterday brought the death toll for US troops to 19 in a single week—the highest so far this year. Almost all of the deaths have been in the Iraqi capital, where US and Iraqi forces are battling the Mahdi Army. Troops are also fighting Sunni insurgents in northern Iraq, AP reports.
Moqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army head believed to currently be in Iran, repeated his demand that all US troops leave the country and urged his Shiite militias not to target their fellow Iraqis unless they were helping the occupation. Mahdi Army officials, however, now say they have received orders to avoid confrontation with US and Iraq forces unless they push deep inside the Sadr City enclave.